MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) gave P302.8 million in Christmas and grocery bonuses and various allowances to its employees in 2011, using funds intended for personnel retirement benefits, according to the Commission on Audit (COA).
In a 129-page report, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer, the COA described the expenditure as “excessive,” “irregular” and “without proper authority.”
The PCSO should “immediately discontinue using the PCSO Provident Fund in granting excessive benefits and allowances” to its employees, said the audit body in its report on PCSO operations in 2011, which was released last December.
The PCSO Provident Fund was established in 2005 to provide agency personnel with supplementary benefits to “assure their financial security upon retirement and make available loans at concessional rates to employees in times of financial difficulty.”
The COA said the audit of the fund “revealed the 2011 grant of grocery and Christmas assistance, as well as rice and (lotto) draw allowances and medicines in the total amount of P302,795,557.71 which was contrary to COA Circular No. 85-55-A.”
Without proper authority
It said, “The payment of allowances and other forms of additional compensation (to PCSO personnel) was without proper authority.”
Moreover, some P92.3 million in medical aid to PCSO employees was wrongly “charged to the Charity Fund instead of the Operating Fund.”
Wilfredo Agito, director of the COA’s Corporate Government Sector (Cluster C), said in a letter to the PCSO board: “This resulted in the improper disbursement of government funds and reduced the financial aid granted to indigent patients who are the true beneficiaries of the PCSO’s Charity Fund.”
The COA reported earlier it had found that the PCSO board of directors received P9.61 million in unauthorized salaries and allowances in 2011.
It has ordered the board to return the money to the government.
“Moreover, per diems for board and committee meetings and draw allowances totaling P5.5 million were paid without the necessary supporting documents as evidence that they actually attended the meetings and draws,” according to Agito.
The PCSO board is chaired by Margarita Juico, with Joaquin Francisco III, Betty Nantes, Ma. Aleta Tolentino and Mabel Mamba as directors. They have yet to reply to the COA findings.
Agito further said: “Cash in bank account balances under the Operating Fund with an aggregate amount of P1.37 billion was of doubtful validity.
“The validity, accuracy and existence of property, plant and equipment amounting to P1.32 billion could not be ascertained and validated due to insufficient accounting and property records.”
In issuing an “adverse opinion” on the PCSO operations in 2011, Agito concluded, “The financial statements do not present fairly the financial position of the PCSO as of Dec. 31, 2011.”
In the same report, the COA said that in 2011, the PCSO had total assets of P11.37 billion, liabilities of P11.38 billion and an operating income of P660.14 million.
The PCSO reported the following accomplishments for 2011:
— P2.45 billion in financial assistance to 95,924 institutions; P32.23 million in financial and medical assistance aid to 75,003 beneficiaries; and P27.22 million in aid to 440 institutions and 123,119 patients.
— Provided free laboratory services to 2,398 patients.
— Evaluated documents of 42,315 patients with cancer and kidney failure problems, which were subsequently forwarded to the fund allocation department for processing.
— Approved 101 requests for medical and dental missions from both public and private sectors, serving a total of 70,091 beneficiaries.
— Released over P31.2 million in financial aid to 32 government and 35 private hospitals, benefiting at least 5,401 indigent patients.
Created under Philippine Legislature Act No. 4130 in October 1934 and amended by Republic Act No. 1169 in 1954 and Batas Pambansa No. 42 in 1979, the PCSO is the “principal government agency for raising and
providing funds for health programs, medical assistance, and services and charities of national character.”
It also makes mandatory contributions to various government agencies, like the Commission on Higher Education, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Philippine Sports Commission, National Museum and Dangerous Drugs Board.
The PCSO is also mandated to provide regular contributions to charitable institutions engaged in welfare services to children and the youth who are either abandoned or exploited, the elderly and the disabled.